My Title Lies

This last year has been the most significant in my life. It has brought forth challenges that I had never faced the likes of. Some I overcame and learned from, others I failed miserably and still learned from. I have learned that I enjoy writing, even if I’m not particularly good at it. I have learned how to read a book with a pencil in hand and still enjoy it. I have learned that I enjoy blogging, even if no one reads it unless they are required to do so.

And that is why the title of this blog lies. “The Only Blog I Will Ever Make” should have been titled “The Only Blog I Ever Intend To Make.” Writing this blog has made me realize that I enjoy writing in an informal setting. I often times (that one was just for you Ms. Magnuson) amuse myself while writing these posts, and I hope that I have managed to amuse you a little bit too. I also hope that you learned something from my musings. I don’t claim to be terribly knowledgeable, but every once in a while, I say something thought provoking (I hope).

You have probably gathered that I intend to start another blog. I have been toying with this idea for a while now, and I have decided to try it. I have decided to use a pen name, because pen names are kinda cool, and I need a new name to blame for writing something that I don’t particularly feel like taking credit for. I decided to go with Aapeli Addison. First of all, it has that awesome alliteration that makes it fun to say. Secondly, and more importantly, it is because of the meaning. Aapeli means “breathing” or “breath.” It will hopefully serve as a constant reminder to try and make my writing full of life. Addison means “son of Adam.” The translation I am using for Adam is dust. This description sums me up pretty well: Aapeli Addison, breathing son of dust. One kind of cool thing that I realized is that Aapeli is Finnish, according to Google, for Able. So it works on another level too, because in the Bible, Able was Adams son. I don’t know what to promise with this new blog. I will try and write posts consistently, but I don’t know what the future will bring. I hope it will bring a little life into your world.

So my friends as I sign off for the last time, I will leave you all with this advice: don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s a mistake I have made time and time again. I have learned that when we feel insignificant, that is when we seem to be happiest. Laugh at yourself, realize how small you are, don’t take yourself too seriously because life’s better that way.

The link to my new blog is here: aapeliadison.wordpress.com

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Desire

It has been said that “entertainment has the capacity to ruin society.” In one sense I agree; entertainment is a powerful tool that influences much of the things that we do. I would argue however that the more correct statement is that the desire for entertainment, not entertainment itself is what will ruin our society.

Come with me to a world where no one is required to do anything. You can provide food for yourself without work, and you will always have what you need. Now imagine the activities that you would do if you had no demands on your time. My guess is that most of the things on your list were activities that you find entertaining. It is natural. We want to be entertained. Back in our world we do many things for the same reason. We watch a TV show, if we are not entertained, we change the channel or turn it off and look for something that will entertain us.

I have noticed that people tend to see activities in four different categories: either the activity is good for them as a person, it is fun and entertaining, it is both, or neither. Take this blog for instance, either you read it because you are required and you don’t really want to; because you find it entertaining; because you enjoy my insights and I say things that make you think; or it is entertaining and insightful. If none of those scenarios is true for you, then I’m not sure why you are reading this. If you read it because you find it entertaining, when it ceases to become entertaining you will stop reading. You will go do something better with your time, because you want to be entertained.

The key with these two main categories is finding a balance. For example, a teacher usually is not considered a good teacher unless they are both entertaining, and know what they are talking about. If they aren’t entertaining, they have to be that much more enlightening to be considered a good teacher. If they don’t instruct well, they have to be that much more entertaining for kids to like them. The problem comes when we substitute what is good for us for entertainment.

Sometimes we watch TV shows because they are entertaining and we like the values they show us. Slowly however, we have begun to lose that. We watch TV for entertainment exclusively, and not to learn anything. The same is true with teachers. When we stop valuing the knowledge they pass onto us and start valuing the entertainment, that is where society will be destroyed. When our desire for entertainment outweighs our desire for personal growth. This is how entertainment will destroy our society.

To Love

I was in America this summer when gay marriage was legalized. I didn’t think it was a big deal until we went to church on Sunday. The pastor was very upset and felt that he needed to share a sermon on the subject. I shared this with some cousins and it turned out that in most churches across America, this was a common occurrence.

Churches across the world have problems with gay marriage, and it makes sense, the Bible has passages in Leviticus where it says that men should not lie with men. Many Christians agree that it is a sin. And so they go on preaching that if you are gay, then you can’t be Christian and there’s no way you are following God.

Here’s the problem with this: if being gay is wrong because it is a sin, then who are we to judge. Gay is the only sin that we label people with. You wouldn’t introduce your friend like this: “Hey guys, this is my friend Bob who puts things in his life before God.” So why do people introduce their friends like this: “Hey guys, this is my gay friend Bob”? Its ridiculous if you think about it. We treat them like a different class of people, because they sin differently than we do.

If the Church discriminates against gays because being gay is a sin, then they are missing the message of the Gospel. Jesus came for the sinners. That was the whole point of his coming. He came to forgive us and to love us, and he calls us to do the same, to everyone. Because we all sin. Just because someone sins in a different way, it doesn’t make them worse people than we are.

Othello

Ah Shakespeare. To some you mean countless hours of torture, trying tirelessly to take the trek through the text. To others, you bring joy and comfort. Shakespeare’s works are in a class by themselves. Not only is he a genius when it comes to rhetoric and writing, but his stories are pretty entertaining too. I recently had the pleasure of reading Othello. No I didn’t put that there because my English teacher will read this, I actually enjoyed it the book. Just as a warning, this blog may contain spoilers, so for any of you who haven’t read the play, you may want to stop reading now.

This is the first time that I have read Othello, and lets just get this out of the way, Iago is the most brilliant evil mastermind of all time. After every single one of his monologues, I felt like there should be an evil laugh. He manipulates everyone without really doing much, and no one suspects him until its too late.  In the play Othello, there are two possible people to blame for the tragic events: Othello and Iago.

The most obvious answer seems to be Iago. It is Iago who manipulates everyone into mistrusting each other, he is the one planting the seeds of jealousy, and he is the one who seems bent on destroying the happiness of everyone. It’s him right?

But then there’s Othello. He’s the one who chose to kill Desdemona and then himself. Iago didn’t suggest that, he just said that she cheated with Cassio. Othello is the one who decided to kill her, and then upon realizing his fatal mistake, he decided to take his own life as well.

Despite the fact that Iago manipulated everyone, and was the cause of the jealousy, I think that the blame for this tragedy ultimately falls on Othello. One could argue that without Iago’s quest for vengeance, none of this would have happened, but Othello is the one who decided to kill his wife. If he didn’t decide to kill his wife just because he thought she cheated on him, things would have turned out alright. The only person who would  have died would have been Rodrigo, and lets be honest, we felt a bit sorry for him, but the play would no longer qualify as a tragedy.

Logic

I was challenged to look at a speech or debate that has taken place somewhat recently and break down the logical issues with it. So I asked myself, where is the easiest place to find logical fallacies? To anyone familiar with the American presidential debate, the answer is obvious: Donald Trump. If Donald Trump loses the election, his speeches will be shown in what not to do seminars, if not then we’ll never be able to say anything negative about him again.

With an idea finally in my head I decided to watch his speech about not letting Muslims into America. After I stopped crying, I started breaking down the things he said. First of all a little background: the premise for his speech was that all Muslims should not be aloud into America because 25% of Muslims who were surveyed said that they thought that violent actions against Americans were justified under the Jihad. This information was taken from Pew research and others. Which others? I doubt we’ll ever know. If that’s not enough evidence for you don’t worry, he gives us more. Oh wait, never mind. Instead of backing up his claims with more evidence he convinces his audience slandering those 25%. Within 30 seconds of presenting this fact, those 25 percent of Muslims surveyed have gone from people who believe that violent acts against Americans are justified under the Jihad to people who, and I quote “believe only in  Jihad… and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” The evidence for this? Only that 25% of the surveyed Muslims thought that violent acts against Americans were justified. I want to see the results of the survey of how many Americans think that violent actions against Muslims are justified because of horrors like 9/11. My guess is that it’s pretty much the same numbers if not greater

So besides a lack of evidence, what were the major logical fallacies presented in this speech? One of the most obvious ones is Composition/Division which is assuming that one part of something has to be applied to all other parts of it. He does this with the Muslim Faith. He says that America should outlaw all Muslims from entering the country because 25% of them think violent acts against Americans are justified. Do you know who thinks that those acts are unjustified? 75% of the Muslims who were surveyed. But just to keep it safe, we should probably ban all of them.

Trump says that “[America has] no choice.” Really? This is the only option you can possibly think of? According to Trump there are only two options: let them in and have continued violence against Americans, or don’t let them in, and you wont have problems. There is no middle ground. This logical fallacy is called black and white, although in this scenario brown and white is probably closer to the truth.

 

 

Excellence

Have you ever used or heard the phrase: I wish I was better at…? It’s a fairly common thing for people to say. The most people don’t wish that they were worse at something. Almost everyone out there is striving for excellence. But why? Is it because we are all striving to be the best human being we can be? Is excellence even worth striving for? What areas are worth the time trying to be excellent at? Or should I try to be excellent in all areas? These are questions that are worth asking. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the answers to any of them. All of these questions you have to decide for yourself. This isn’t just me being too lazy to answer them, I genuinely believe that these questions must be answered on a personal level to be meaningful.

I’ve been talking about striving for excellence, but what does that look like? How can we strive for excellence? To me striving for excellence is something that takes work. It’s not so much an action as it is an attitude. To me pursuing excellence is always asking yourself: how can I make that better? It’s hard. When you finally finish a huge project and then you don’t do as well as you thought u would, most of the time, the last thing you want to do is to try and redo it to make it better. To me that is what excellence is all about. You may think your great at something, and so you stop looking for ways to improve. When that happens, then the pursuit of excellence dies. Excellence isn’t about being the best at a thing, its about getting better at it. Personally, I never want to be the best at anything, because if I’m the best, then who do I learn from?

I Can Never Come Up With a Clever Title

Have you ever had a thing that you knew you needed to think about, but you really didn’t want to? Something that you would put off for as long as you possibly could? Growing up is one of those things for me. Some adult will ask me: So where are you thinking about going to college Michael? I usually say something along the lines of “America,” and then move on with my day without giving it any more thought. And then after I go to college, I have to get a job, which brings me to the topic I have been trying to put off (you see what I did there?): Resumes. I am fully aware that the two e’s have accents on them, but I don’t know how to insert that symbol in this program. Deal with it.

Resumes can be scary things for different reasons. One is that they force you to put down your accomplishments on paper. You list down everything you have done that other people might think is worthwhile. Its scary how short of a list it can be. On the other hand, for some people it might be hard to list all the things they’ve done without feeling like they are bragging. Ultimately, by writing a resume, you take on the role of a salesman. Your product: you. You have to make people want you. That’s hard to do. Need an example? My last date. Just kidding… I don’t go on dates.

But this blog isn’t just a place for me to vent to. I try to give you at least some form of advice with every post. If you are going to write a resume, you should probably do research on how other than simply reading this blog post. You really don’t want to trust me with something as big as a possible job. So I will try to make the following list one that you won’t see when doing other research.

Know what job you are applying for. That sounds kind of obvious, but hear me out. When you apply for a job, you want to do a resume that is appropriate. A resume for an artist will look different than a resume for a law company.

Keep it professional. Although it might be the thing your best at, you probably don’t want to put jokes on your resume. You might get a letter back saying something like “I liked the joke you put on your resume, do you want to hear another joke? You got the job.” Also you probably shouldn’t put an emoji on your resume.

Although it may be the best quality about you, putting “sexy” as a strength is probably something you shouldn’t do. There are some jobs where that would be a helpful point, but if you are hoping to get one of those jobs, you might have other issues that should be resolved before you finish your resume.

I hope these things were helpful, and if nothing else, I hope it made you smile a little bit. Enjoy your week, and don’t take yourself too seriously, life’s better that way.

Dr. Seuss- The Thinks I think About You

I’ve been reading about Dr. Seuss recently for school, and I am beginning to remember that part of my childhood. Part of our assignment is to come up with a “If Dr. Seuss were a… he would be a … I thought you guys might want to hear what I thought Dr. Seuss would be, so here goes.

Also bear in mind that if Dr. Seuss were any of these things, he would be something that he made up, but I will try and think of something real so that everyone knows what I am talking about

If Dr. Seuss were a(n)…

Animal, he would be a chimpanzee. Why? Firstly because he is pretty smart. Secondly, because he amuses himself, and when I think of chimps, I think of them playing around and generally enjoying themselves. The Third and least important reason, is that Dr. Seuss has been studied quite a bit.

Plant, he would be grass. The kind that is soft and inviting. The kind you want to lie down in and just stay there, because that’s how I feel about the places he creates.

article of clothing, he would be a Thneed. OK, so I lied to you when I told you that I would only use real words. I’m sorry, but a Thneed sums his writing up well: its got a little bit of everything.

Day of the week, he would be a Thriday, I broke my rule again. Sorry. A Thriday is a Thursday when there is some sort of holiday or day off the next day, so it is like a Friday. Hence Thriday. He would be a Thriday because days like those are few and far between, and they are always special.

Food, he would be an Ethiopian Mixed Platter, because there are so many different flavours of Dr. Seuss.

Color, I think yellow, because his writing is bright and exciting.

Shape, he would be tesseract, because his writing is on the next level.

Smell, he would be the a candle, because just like a candle fills the rooms of your house, his writing can fill your heart.

Type of building, he would be a veranda, because his writing is always welcoming to everyone.

Word, he would be a word that he made up and no one else knew.

Musical instrument, he would be a sackbut, because the name might amuse him.

Season of the year, he would be Spring, because each different book of his is new and refreshing.

Appliance, he would be a kindle, because he enjoyed books.

Natural Phenomenon, he would be thunder, because you can hear his voice in all of his works.

Literary character, he would probably be like Huckleberry Fin, because he makes up some pretty great stories.

So there’s my list guys. This week was  a little different, and I hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

 

Be Careful Little Child What You Say

Words. Words are everywhere. We use them every day. A lot of the time though, we don’t use them correctly. I am guilty of this too. Probably every single day I use a word that I don’t know the full meaning for, even in this blog post, I most likely couldn’t tell you the definition of all the words I use. Now there is something to be said for having an instinct. As you become more familiar with a language, you can use words correctly in a sentence without knowing their full meaning. I know there is no way to pause and think about the full meaning of everything you say before you say it, but we should take a few seconds to think about what we are saying; we need to be more careful with our words.

The words that cause people to say what they don’t mean the most are expressions. Now I can be a very literal person if I want to, and most expressions are not meant to be taken literally, but I still think before you use an expression you need to stop and think. For instance, has anyone ever told you that “something funny happened to me the other day” and then proceeded to tell you an incredibly dull story? It irks me. If they actually thought that it was funny, but it wasn’t, then that would be fine (that happens to me all the time). But they don’t think its funny. Its just a way for them to justify telling you a story. Whenever people do this to me I just laugh at the end of the story. Not because I think that their misused expression is funny, or because I want others to laugh with me, but because I want them to feel the awkwardness. It’s kind of harsh, but I want them to think about why I laughed and to be more careful with their language. Another expression that bothers me, and to people who have a problem with swearing I apologize in advance, is fuck that shit. I get this expression, because in a bad situation, I too often have the urge to have sex with a piece of poop. Is that what you want to say? This expression is just swearing for fun. Not for any meaning or added significance, but just because it can. There are tons of other expressions out there that don’t actually make sense when you think about them for more than two seconds. My point? Think a little bit about what you are going to say, or you will end up sounding like an idiot.

On a much more important note, words have power. Whoever coined the expression “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was lying to themselves. Words can hurt. Deeply. There are people who never recover from words that they heard as a child. Be careful with yours. Every human being has immense power. They have the power to permanently maim, or to heal the maimed. This power comes from their words. What are yours doing?

 

 

 

At the Limit

At some point in our lives we all rebel against the system. We find issues with the way that we are governed, the way our society judges people, or the way people live out their lives. How we respond to these situations can shape who we are.  Some of us inwardly rage at these things, others of us vent to a friend, others write. Some simply break the rules that they find wrong and go on living their lives; others will go on a journey to find their answers.

Here seems to be a natural place to Segway to the journey of Chris McCandless depicted for us in the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, but from my understanding of Chris McCandless, following the rules isn’t something he would encourage. On the other hand, McCandless wasn’t the kind of person who broke the rules just for the sake of breaking the rules, but rather because he had some sort of objection towards them. Since I can think of no moral reason to not to use this natural transition, I will go ahead as planned. If you are confused after this paragraph, I will give you the shortened version: after a brief internal debate, I decided to talk about Chris McCandless.

Rather than giving a brief synopsis of the book, which I have faith that you can read all by yourself, I would like to offer you with the a small tid-bit of wisdom, which I gleaned from it. In life, we all demand things of ourselves, it is different for every person what we demand, but we all demand something. Chris McCandless was no different. It is good for us to demand things of ourselves, to set goals and to try and reach them. The problem with McCandless was that “he demanded much of himself-more, in the end, than he could deliver (Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer).” Spoiler Alert, he dies. This isn’t fiction. This is real life. He died, because he demanded too much. He went past his limit. Where’s yours?